Greenblatt notes that, "It is striking how many of Shakespeare's women are shown reading" The appearance of this new audience spawned a rash of devotional and instructional works on everything from needlework to midwifery. Fiction for female audiences appeared later, around Despite the increase in literacy among women and in works created with them in mind, the overwhelming majority of these works-for-women were written by men. The central contention in these works was not what women should be, "chaste dutiful, shamefast and silent" 11 , but rather, whether or not they succeeded in fulfilling this requirement.
Joseph Swetnam's "Arraignment of Lewd, Idle, Forward, and Unconstant Women" was published in and inspired a handful of responses attributed to women including an anonymous play "Swetnam the Woman-hater Arraigned by Women" The majority of women who did write were the sisters, wives, or daughters of men who wrote and limited themselves primarily to devotional texts and translation. Due to the stir caused by the Reformation in Europe, Queen Elizabeth of England sought to stabilize her country by compromising between the Protestants and Catholics.
Tensions continued to mount and massacres were occurring on both sides. In , on St. This was soon after some other Protestant purging and the assassination of the Protestant leader, William of Orange. In , the pope stated that it would not be a mortal sin to assassinate the Queen of England. Hereafter, all Catholics, loyal or not, were under suspicion. Soon, it was discovered that Queen Mary was involved in an assassination plot and "Elizabeth signed the death warrant in February , and her cousin was beheaded. However, the Spanish fleet was routed by the English, then destroyed by storms at sea.
In a "victory" speech the Queen stated, "We Princes [England] are set on stages in the sight and view of all the world. James I took the throne in His reign was lavish and extravagant. He hoped to unite Scotland and England under one title. James I longed to be crowned "King of Great Britain. During James I's early years, his court was known for its "diplomacy, amibition, intrigue, and an intense jockeying for social position. The courtier's lifestyle was refined into an art form.
The Jacobean Court was ideal because the king was generous with money and affection. He had favorite courtiers who received exquisite gifts. King James' romantic attachments to his male courtiers spawned "rumors of widespread homosexual activities at court. James I and his courtiers were more likely expressing "passionate physical and spritual love. James I hosted celebrations, and masques were performed for court nobility. The lifestyle witnessed during the masques led to finanical strife for James I. James I's debts rose drastically. Unpopular duties were placed upon the king's subjects.
Parliamentary disputes over the king's debts dampened King James I's court life. James's religious policy began quite radically, yet when he advanced to the throne in England in he became decidedly more conservative. While he ruled in Scotland in the 's he saw himself as sacred and felt he had insight into the agents of Satan. In he published his Demonology, a testament of the evil that threatened his divine rule. In the 's, in Scotland, thousands of women and some men were tortured and killed for alleged witchcraft.
Yet, when he claimed the throne in England, he adopted the current laws. Although England had laws against witchcraft, they were far more just and objective than the Scottish laws at that time. James also moderated other religious views. In James wrote Basilikon Doron which undeniably was against Puritan reform. However, when presented with a petition signed by a thousand ministers, he called a conference to deal with the ceremonies of the Church of England; this led to the publication of the King James Bible. In addition, the results persuaded James to publish the Canons, which required ministers to adhere to principles that eventually led to religious divisions and ultimately the murder of James's son Charles.
Prior to these theaters, the only plays that were being held in the towns of England were the "mystery plays. However, with the Protestant Reformation in full swing, these plays soon became produced less frequently because there was a push to get rid of Catholic influence in England. Early English theater took on a role that parodied some of the mystery plays and it became more popular as plays that addressed secular concerns became more predominant.
With the addition of minstrels, common actors, and morality topics, the Early English theater became a rival to the church.
Church leaders found themselves denouncing these secular plays because they found some of the themes blasphemous. However, in reality it was the competition between the church and the success of the professional players that was the real problem. The Church would never admit to this rivalry. Playacting was a form of art that was often accompanied by music and dance.
Whether comedy or tragedy, the music and dances incorporated into the plays were important additions to the theatrical world during Shakespeare's time--very frequently during this period a dance would signify the closing of a play. The importance of dancing on stage was a reflection of dance's widespread popularity throughout the Renaissance period.
However, even more central to the stage was music, which obviously is very closely related to dancing. The early part of the sixteenth century showed a loss of interest or even resentment towards music and as a result many organs of the church were destroyed and school choirs were shut down. But later in the century music made a comeback and began to spread until it was again incorporated into many aspects of everyday life. This quote acts as a good example of the importance of music to Shakespeare's world, but sadly much of the music incorporated into Shakespeare's plays has been forgotten because their popularity may have been cause for nobody to write them down.
Despite the popular sway wielded by touring players-and maybe even because of it, the stage evoked an enormous amount of hostility from the ecclesiastic and civic officials of Shakespeare's day. Social critics, for one, cited numerous concerns for the safety of the audiences, targeting among other things the unruly mobs of theater-goers, the unsanitary viewing conditions, and the unsavory rabble of prostitutes and riff-raff who frequented the spectacles.
The atmosphere was, in their opinion, "inherently disorderly," and therefore represented a serious threat to the public well-being. Not to be outdone, though, the primary brunt of opposition seems to have been initiated by church officials who questioned the unwholesome moral content of the plays. Occasions of subversive blasphemy and theatrical transvestism eventually earned the stage a reputation as "Satan's domain," a place where decent, God-fearing people were led astray from the path of duty and piety.
Renaissance music - Wikipedia
Summarizing the puritanical stance of William Prynne--a typical fanatic--and his select group of antitheatricalists, Greenblatt writes, "stage plays were part of a demonic tangle of obscene practices proliferating like a cancer in the body of society" In light of such adversity it is amazing that the theater was not abolished altogether.
However, with the financial backing of powerful patrons, the stage was able to weather such attacks and persevere until more receptive times. The players and playwrights of the 's found an unexpected ally in those appointed by the monarchy to censor and regulate the stage.
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More precisely, the actors and authors depended on the censor's approval to give their works at least some legitimacy. Queen Elizabeth issued a proposal in the late 's calling for the review of all pieces that were to be performed.
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In this proposal, she explicitly denies the privilage of viewing plays to audiences who are not, "grave and discreet," while acceptible authors must be people, "of authority, learning and wisdom. Interestingly, playwrights were not censored or banned for simply having contradictory beliefs--it was those plays which ridiculed the hierarchy including influential foreign leaders , or threatened to unleash civil unrest that were most likely to meet with disapproval from the censor.
Later, the Master of Revels was appointed to provide a framework for the regulation of the stage. In her edict, the queen insisted that the Master of Revels personally review each play destined for the stage. This system of regulation, while ensuring that all legally licensed playhouses would be within London's city limits, also guaranteed the players protection from local authorities who may, and often did, disapprove of a play's subject matter. Greenblatt's main focus in this section is the major developments of the sixteenth century that made Shakespeare's phenomenal career possible.
The theater experienced paramount growth and change in this time, largely due to the rapidly changing society by which it was surrounded. The rapid expansion of the market society, or the making of an urban "public," was the first important cultural formation aiding the success of sixteenth century theater. The unexplained urban population boom lent itself to the expansion and popularization of the theater.
The sheer number of those able to frequent performances grew immensely. In addition, markets evolved from periodic to continuous affairs, prompting theater goers to regard theatric performances as more common, everyday occurrences, rather than mindfully reserve them for festivals and other special occasions. The English nation existed in the sixteenth century largely as a "Theater State.
Manifestations of power in courtly life were heavily dramatic, larger-than-life, much like the performances themselves. It was almost as if these powerful figures were players in their own extravagant performance. In addition to this real-life power play, regal figures often attended the theater, lending an air of prestige to theater goers and players alike. Religious ritual proved a valuable aid to the state of sixteenth century theater. The Catholic practices banned by Protestant authorities could be theatricized and motivated theater goers.
Greenblatt asserts, however, that despite the obvious influence on theater of the market society, Theater State, and the church, it could not fully identify with any of them. It was attacked as an enemy of economic activity and a competitor of religious gathering, making it out to be the adversary, not the result, of sixteenth century society.
In Shakespeare's time, and as a thread running through his plays, his characters are "known" by their clothing; their identify is tied up with their costume. In this section, Greenblatt suggests Shakespeare draws on "his culture's investment in costume, symbols of authority, visible signs of status--the fetishism of dress he must have witnessed from early childhood" Greenblatt points out, "this culture seems deeply dependent on the clothes one wears. The identity of Shakespeare's characters are clothed in disguise; in Twelfth Night, for example, although Viola's identity has been disclosed at the end, Orsino "continues to call her Cesario; he will do so.
Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music
The characters here keep up the pretense of the disguise even though Viola's true role has been uncovered. The royal crown, whose power men are willing to die for, is the zenith of the fetishism of costume. Not necessarily the 'actual' crown itself, but the power it confers upon the wearer. Anything that is a personal mark or trademark of a person, for instance, the "filthy blanket that transforms Edgar into Poor Tom to the coxcomb that is the badge of the licensed fool" 57 , becomes the outward identify-conferring icon of the particular character.
Another example of the identity of the wearer being tied to his clothing is Richard II. He was "divested of his crown and scepter" and experienced this as the "eradication of his name, the symbolic melting away of his identity," and he says, ". And know not now what name to call myself!
Lear has this same problem when he passes off his clothes "in order to reduce himself to the nakedness of the Bedlam beggar" 58 , and finds that he has not only lost his social identity, but experiences "the breakdown of his psychic order. All of these scenes represent the Renaissance English culture as being a "characteristically deep and knowing commitment to illusion" With the donning of male attire Viola, Rosalind, Portia, Jessica, and other of Shakespeare's female characters, "alter[s] what they can say and do, reveal[s] important aspects of their character, and change[s] their destiny" In the end, though, Viola exclaims, "A little thing would make me tell them how much I lack of a man" Knowing how much the character depends upon her clothing to depict the role Shakespeare created, these women have really not become much more effectual than the articles of clothing they wear--not more important, not more relevant, nor more influential.
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